Week 9 saw a major regression in quarterback play as every team was in a position to solidify or strengthen their playoff standing. While Alex McGough and DeAndre Johnson rose to the challenge and put together some of the better Quarterback performances in the 2023 USFL season, Quarterbacks like Josh Love, Kenji Bahar, and Cole Kelley all faltered when their teams needed them most. The biggest outlier for losing teams this week was Case Cookus who was pummeled for Four quarters, as the Stars fell short despite a heroic effort to the Generals.
9. Josh Love Michigan Panthers Previous Ranking #4
Stats: 19/33 233 Passing Yards 1 TD 4 INT 3 Rushing Attempts 16 Rushing Yards
A four turnover game not only diminished the Panthers chances at a playoff berth, but also his former College Teammate Frank Ginda’s opportunity to earning Defensive Player of the Year honors, as the Maulers Defense led by Kyahva Tezino Hammered Down hard on the Michigan Offense. Love was constantly under duress and often times could not see the whole field, due to the Maulers pass rush. With Michigan faced with a win and you’re in, scenario in week 10, look for Love to hopefully put his best foot forward in hopes of giving the Panthers a fighting chance for a playoff berth.
8. Cole Kelley Memphis Showboats Previous Ranking #5
Stats: 23/41 224 Passing Yards 0 TD 3 INT 3 Rushing Attempts 18 Rushing Yards
Kelley, whose been one of the USFL’s most fun QB’s to watch showed some major regression in Week 9, throwing Three Interceptions. Kelley seemed to have short armed several passes and was under duress it appeared on 50% of his drop backs. While Kelley has been a great story this season, it appears him and the Showboats may not have enough gas to make a playoff push against the Stallions and Breakers in 2023.
7. Kenji Bahar Houston Gamblers Previous Ranking #7
Stats: 20/27 149 Passing Yards 0 TD 1 INT 5 Rushing Attempts 15 Rushing Yards 1 Fumble
Bahar’s bread and butter this year has been his ability to manage the game and play mistake free football in this revival of the 2023 Houston Gamblers. This Sunday none of those things happened, for Bahar as two untimely turnovers and the inability to get his Receivers in space to make plays plagued the former Monmouth and possibly the Gamblers playoff hopes. While Bahar wasn’t helped by Mark Thompson he does have a shot at redemption as the Gamblers take on the New Orleans Breakers in Week 10 for a final shot at the 2023 playoffs.
6. Montel Cozart Houston Gamblers Previous Ranking Unranked
Stats: 4/7 31 Passing Yards 0 TD 0 INT 1 Rushing Attempt 28 Rushing Yards
While Cozart was clearly used in garbage time, the former Birmingham Stallion put together a respectable enough performance to be used a line of demarcation against the back half of USFL signal callers. Cozart garnered some needed experience and most importantly allowed Bahar to leave the game healthy as the Gamblers get ready to take on the Breakers in hopes of keeping their playoff hopes alive.
5. Troy Williams Pittsburgh Maulers Previous Ranking #6
Stats: 14/24 166 Passing Yards 1 TD 0 INT 5 Rushing Attempts 7 Rushing Yards
While Williams was clearly aided by some short fields, from his Defense and Special Teams, Williams put together a safe and solid campaign for the Maulers enroute to their 19 to 7 win over the Panthers. Williams after undergoing a barrage of pressure in the first half still managed to play a turnover free game and did his team a service by not forcing any throws. While the Maulers are in line for a playoff berth as long as they win, Williams as we’ve mentioned since he took over has been the unsung hero of the Pittsburgh Offense since Week 3.
4. McLeod Bethel-Thompson New Orleans Breakers Previous Ranking #3
Stats: 9/16 88 Passing Yards 1 TD 0 INT 4 Rushing Attempts 4 Rushing Yards
Despite a rather pedestrian performance by MBT, the crafty veteran managed the Breakers Offense to a victory, with the help of a consistent Rushing attack. While not extremely dynamic, a mistake free game from MBT, and a collaborative effort from the Breakers special teams, has the Breakers currently sitting in the #2 spot for the South Division.
3. DeAndre Johnson New Jersey Generals Previous Ranking Unranked
Stats: 15/20 213 Passing Yards 7 Rushing Attempts 29 Rushing Yards 1 Reception 14 Receiving Yards
Even though he never found pay dirt in week 9, Johnson did a bit of everything in a must win game for New Jersey. Johnson returned to the field and played some of his best football of maybe his pro career, when the Generals needed it most. Johnson was able to connect Darrell Stewart twice for connections of 50 plus yards, while also notching a reception from a former Quarterback Cam Echols-Luper.
2. Case Cookus Philadelphia Stars Previous Ranking #2
Stats: 25/39 263 Passing Yards 3 TD 0 INT 7 Rushing Attempts 59 Rushing Yards 2 Fumbles
Despite a heroic effort, Cookus labored through to the end of this game dealing with injuries in what appeared to be the whole second half. Cookus not only was dealt an injury to his ankle but appeared to dealing with an issue with his ribs, showing extreme discomfort to his right side, in addition to not being able to fully extend his arm on throws. While the Stars Offense managed to put up 33 points, the biggest loss to this team could be the status of Drew Himmelman who provided a much-needed stabilizing force for Philadelphia over the past several weeks.
1. Alex McGough Birmingham Stallions Previous Ranking #1
Stats: 13/21 208 Passing Yards 2 TD 1 INT 9 Rushing Attempts 34 Rushing Yards 1 TD
Even in a “down” week McGough remains a step above the rest of the USFL. Week in and week out the former FIU signal caller continues to be the premier Quarterback, being able to be extremely mobile, while also constantly keeping his eyes down field for the open receiver. His additional 3 touchdowns this week gives him 23 on the year, which is only 2 from A.J. McCarron’s total in the XFL.